The Fiasco of Customer Support - Sony Canada

I've been off writing for a bit again.  Life seems to keep interfering, especially over the holidays.  So there were many topics to chose from that have been piling up.  Today - and perhaps for the next blog as well - I'm going to talk about the fiasco of customer support.  While the automated systems are annoying, the whole level of customer support has fallen to new lows recently that surprised even me.

For the first five years I spent interviewing, I used an inexpensive cassette recorder.  I prefer taping and transcribing as it is way too distracting to write down notes and great quotes while trying to carefully listen to what someone is sharing.  Transcribing is probably the most tedious job I face.  However, while listening to the interview at a later time without that person's presence, I sometimes hear small details I missed.  Occasionally I realize I misunderstood what they were trying to say.  It's also the best way to make sure quotes are accurate.  The downfall of the inexpensive cassette recorder is quality, especially if you are conducting the interview in a space with a lot of back ground noise, the interviewee has a strong accent or they talk very quickly.  Once I had all 3 happening and it took me almost a week of going over the tape to figure it out.

Last fall I finally broke down and purchased a high end Sony Digital Voice Recorder. The slim design is great, the operating system was pretty easy to figure out and the directional mic really helps cut out the background noise. The high quality of the recording also makes transcribing much easier .  After doing 5 interviews on it, there turned out to be only one glitch.  Erasing!  The button to erase is right on the side. When you hold the device you can't help touching it. I honestly hadn't noticed it until I accidentally erased a very important interview.  The interview was over, the stop button had been pressed and I was holding it in my hand to make sure I didn't misplace the device. It was  a busy coffee shop with a lot of distractions and when I got up to leave I happened to glance down to see the ominous words - "Erase Y/N?"   AAAAAHHHHHH!  This is where it goes all horribly wrong.

In my confusion I made the terribly wrong decision to just turn off the device.   If I had been at home in a quiet environment I would have carefully made sure I knew how to select the right option.  In such a distracting situation I was afraid I wouldn't do it right.  All other devices I worked with did not erase unless you selected YES and often asked, "Are you sure?", so it seemed the safest choice.  Well, it turns out that is every device except this high end Sony one.  Why turning off the power means yes I have no idea, but what limited customer service I was able to get informed me this is the case.  I recently read the Steve Job biography and one thing he always focused on was that devices should be user friendly and intuitive.  Obviously Sony never embraced that principle.

Part One - Now it gets really fun.  I have accidentally erased something, but not used the device again.  So it should be recoverable as there is no chance I have overwritten it.  That's common knowledge.   So it's time to start through the customer service maze and see what can be done.  First I start with the online chat.  A person answered right away and said they would be happy to help me with that and then SILENCE.  I ask again what to do and get a weird response that they can only help with........  So I express my confusion as they said they were going to help and I don't understand how.  I was then happy to be given a direct phone number to call for information on data recovery.  A real person - what a gift!  Over 2 days it turned to disappointment as I phoned several times to no avail.  I kept getting a recording to hold - then a recorded message the line was busy - then they hung up on me.

Part Two - The customer phone support line was next.  It is a recorded system that is supposed to eventually lead you to the right person to help you.  After working my way through several lists, I think I finally made it to the last question.  I was supposed to push #5 on my phone to get to the department that dealt with my recorder.  SURPRISE - nothing happens.  I keep pushing #5 and the recorded message just keeps looping through the options as if I haven't responded.  I called back and tried it again to see if it was just a glitch.  Again I keep pressing #5 as it keeps repeating the options.

Part Three - Email support is hopefully better - not! First, the little box was too limited for my problem with both the support services and my device, but I do my best hoping they will call.  No way.  They email me an ID # for my problem and let me know there is not enough information.  So I email back my problems with the device and also the problems with the support system so they can fix them.  They send me a link for a Sony Data Recovery program to try and 2 options for recovery services in the U.S. (this is Sony Canada - why is there no option here) for me to use if it does work.  So I follow the link and click on the button to download the program.  The response - "FILE NOT FOUND."  This link is on the Sony website, is to a Sony program and it doesn't connect to anything.  No wonder the erase feature is so poorly designed.  Although an email was sent telling them the link was not working, there was never an answer of any kind, only a questionnaire to evaluate their service.  Obviously I filled out a negative one, but have never had a response.

Finale - My husband looked at the name of the program and did an internet search, finding it on a non-Sony website.  Given my experience with Sony Help it really didn't surprise me it didn't find the file.  As I really cannot afford the date recovery, I am going to have to find a way to do the interview again - perhaps by email.  I can't trust my memory as it's been a few weeks with the holidays in between.

I don't often write negative reviews as I believe the best way to deal with these things is silence. This blog is hopefully meant to actually get their attention in a big way so they can figure out the problems and solve them. I have tried emailing them my concerns and they just ignore them.  SO HERE IT IS SONY!  I actually love the quality of the digital recorder despite the stupidity with the erase button and hope you will listen and respond to these issues.

Next customer service fiasco to be featured in this blog will be Shaw Cable.  This one is too good not to cover - it's been going on for over 2 months now and I still can't get their attention!